Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


most popular


Your Life Calling

Turning Heartache Into Hope Live Chat

If you missed the chat with Jane and her guests Sylvia Abrego-Araiza and Tracy Whitaker, you can catch the conversation here.

Comment from Tallison: Do the trials and challenges of social work spill over to your personal life?

Pauley: Tallison, as a reporter, I know there are personalities who seem drawn to the fire, so to speak. I’ve had colleagues who gravitated toward calamity—the scene of an earthquake, for instance. Others were more inclined to stories that taught something. Dozens or scores of different emotional zones are encompassed under the umbrella of journalism.

I think in social work it would be the same. Some individuals will have a high tolerance for emotion or the ability to compartmentalize. Such a person might do better in some aspects of social work than another. So you would want to choose a field that best matches your temperament.

Abrego-Araiza: Tallison, there are times that the trials of my daily work spill over onto my personal life, so it helps to have someone that I can talk to in order to process my thoughts and feelings too. With each experience, I have become a better counselor who is able to cope with the challenges.

Comment from Debbie: Jane, Sylvia or Tracy, I am interested in an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice but am finding school costs around $35K for two years. Other than financial aid, are there any scholarships or grants available for those over 50?. I am interested in working with juvenile offenders or parolees.

Whitaker: Hi Debbie, NASW has several scholarship programs (information is available at In addition, you might want to look at the particular school you'd like to attend. Often, there are graduate assistantships or other awards that will help defray costs. There are also loan forgiveness programs that some social workers qualify for after graduation.

Comment from Tina: Sylvia, is there a single case that you feel has been your biggest or most fulfilling success?

Abrego-Araiza: Yes, most recently one of my clients decided to get out of a prominent gang in our community. He did this during the course of the program and he has opted to re-enroll in the program in order to work a program of recovery.

Comment from Liz: Thank you, Tracy and Jane. Do you have any specific ideas to get me started? I have researched both licenses and all of it just seems so overwhelming to me. It seems even with my MSW that I still have so far to go to accomplish these goals. Sylvia,  keep the faith. Faith will definitely keep us grounded as we deal with the heartbreaking stories. Congratulations and God bless you, Sylvia!

Whitaker: Liz, try to stay focused on your long-term goal. I suggest that you start by talking with people who may be able to point you in a specific direction. You can contact the NASW chapter in your area and state and start networking with other social workers.

Comment from Stuart: Does your social work training enable you to be any more effective in dealing with family issues, or helping to resolve disputes amongst friends?  

Whitaker: Hi Stuart, I'd like to think that I'm more effective in dealing with my family issues, but my husband might disagree! However, I do think that being a social worker helps me understand some of the dynamics that motivate human behavior and helps me defuse some situations, both at home and in the workplace.

Abrego-Araiza: Stuart, my training has most definitely enriched my life, and I have acquired knowledge and skills to benefit personally and help my friends and family too. At times, my training felt like therapy sessions.

Comment from Susan: Any guidance on what to do when you don't know what your calling really is? How do you find it?

Whitaker: Hi Susan. Think about the things that make you the happiest. If you could get paid for doing something you love, what would that be? I found that social work met that need for me and I find that many social workers say the same thing.

Abrego-Araiza: Susan, search your heart to find what your passion is. Explore the options in your community and ask God to guide you every step of the way.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by

Membership Discount Benefit Pet Plan Dog

Members save 10% on Petplan pet insurance premiums when purchasing a policy online.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.